Reference Points and Balance

As I mentioned before, I took up running this year. In addition to the health benefits, I’ve been enjoying the challenge of mastering a new skill. Running changes how I use my body, and gets me thinking about it in totally different ways than in dance. Now, I’m much more focused on efficiency of motion, stride length, foot strike. These things were never in my consciousness before.

After my first race, I tried reading up on technique for running using the wonders of Google. Combined with information from friends, this tack had worked well for me to learn about training practices. But I kept running into competing information without a lot of good guidance on how to assess and assimilate that information. What’s the form for sprinting vs. middle distances vs. long runs? I noticed that my local gym had a trainer who offered running form analysis sessions, and made an appointment.

At our second session, he was running me through warm-ups and technique drills. Through almost every drill, my left leg was struggling. Not as strong. Not as flexible.  Not as coordinated. Clearly, I’m right leg dominant, something that swing dancing (Charleston) has exacerbated. In my dancing, I practice on both sides of my body, but just being out social dancing adds so many increased repetitions to a single side for certain actions. Whether its the constant tension/connection on the lead’s left hand all the way through to the shoulder or the right leg’s swinging kick out of a swing out, swing-dancing is not inherently balanced.

Of course, if the only thing we are seriously training for is the dance, that becomes our entire world. Until I started pushing myself with running, I never really took stock of the imbalances and tolls that dance was having on my body. Sure, I did yoga and stretched, and am generally more body aware than most. But I was never invested deeply enough to see my own reflection, the parameters that I existed within.

As always, I tend to extrapolate my experiences out into my life. By changing the external boundaries and borders, the habits and patterns that define my every day experiences, I’ve come to see my own edges more clearly. No longer can I comfortably blend in to the familiar context of my life. I’ve come to see the imbalances that have crept in and become comfortable. Its not the lack of balance to stay centered, standing on one foot. Its the balance that comes from working all areas equally, from seeing what needs strengthening and engaging with it, what is tight that needs to be loosened, and making myself ever more capable.

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